Doron Lamb

Julius Mays gives fans a scare in Kentucky exhibition win

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John Calipari has been extremely lucky in that his Kentucky team’s haven’t had problems with injuries. The general bumps and bruises come with the season, but rarely has he had to deal with a major break or tear.

He may have gotten one of his biggest scares in the Wildcats’ 74-28 victory over cross-town college Transylvania. Fifth-year senior guard Julius Mays went knee-to-knee with a Pioneer’s player midway through the second half and went down to the court as a result. Staying down for a few minutes while trainers attended to him in front of a deathly-quiet crowd at Rupp Arena. He left the game and didn’t return.

It could’ve been a huge blow because Mays is one of the unsung tools of a Calipari attack, the shooter. Since his Memphis days, Calipari has always kept a dead-eye gunner who can stretch the defense and open the driving lanes for the wings and slashers. He’s had that with Kentucky in Darnell Dodson (albeit poorly), then Doron Lamb the last two years.

Fortunately for Big Blue Nation, Mays was checked out by team trainers postgame and his ACL and MCL both look good. He should be ready to go for the team’s regular season opener on Friday against Maryland at the brand-spankin’-new Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Great news for Mays, who could’ve been the man at Wright State as a senior, but wanted to win on a major level in his final collegiate season. And even better news for Kentucky and Calipari, who dodges the injury bullet in regards to his shooter.

David Harten is the editor of The Backboard Chronicles. You can follow him on Twitter at @David_Harten.

Top 25 Countdown: No. 3 Kentucky Wildcats

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Throughout the month of October, CollegeBasketballTalk will be rolling out our previews for the 2012-2013 season. Check back at 9 a.m. and just after lunch every day, Monday-Friday, for a new preview item.

To browse through the preview posts we’ve already published, click here. To look at the rest of the Top 25, click here. For a schedule of our previews for the month, click here.

Last Season: 38-2, 16-0 SEC (1st); Won the National Title

Head Coach: John Calipari

Key Losses: Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Marquis Teague, Terrence Jones, Darius Miller, Doron Lamb

Newcomers: Alex Poythress, Nerlens Noel, Willie Cauley-Stein, Ryan Harrow, Archie Goodwin, Julius Mays

Projected Lineup:

G: Ryan Harrow, So.
G: Archie Goodwin, Fr.
F: Alex Poythress, Fr.
F: Kyle Wiltjer, So.
C: Nerlens Noel, Fr.
Bench: Willie Cauley-Stein, Fr.; Julius Mays, Sr.; Twany Beckham, Sr.; Jon Hood, Jr.

Outlook: As is the norm for this Kentucky program, there aren’t going to be many familiar faces on the Wildcat roster heading into the 2012-2013 season. Gone is just about everyone significant from last year’s team, with all six of Kentucky’s key players getting drafted in 2012.

What that means is, once again, Coach Cal is going to have to build his team from the bottom up, and he’s going to have to do it quickly — in just nine days, he’ll be kicking off the season with a trip to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn to take on Maryland, heading to Atlanta just four days later to take on Duke. The learning curve for this group is is non-existent.

There’s no question about the talent level and NBA potential on this crop of ‘Cats. Nerlens Noel isn’t the second coming of Anthony Davis simply because he doesn’t have the same advanced perimeter skills that Davis did, but that doesn’t change the fact that Noel is a dominant interior force on the defensive end of the floor. He may even be a better shot-blocker than Davis was, and surely his ability on the offensive end will develop as the season progresses.

What’s scary is that, thus far in the preseason, the excitement for this group seems to be more about Willie Cauley-Stein than Noel. Cauley-Stein is seven-feet tall and was a wide receiver in high school, which should give you a bit of an idea of his athleticism. He’s very raw, maybe even more so than Noel, but with those two taking the floor at the same time, opponents may not be able to get a shot off within 10 feet of the rim.

Joining them up front will be Alex Poythress and Kyle Wiltjer. Poythress is a guy that may have the most potential for success this season, as he seems to be one of the more polished freshmen in the class. He’s a 6-foot-7, athletic combo-forward that has really put on muscle-mass since arriving on campus. He could have the same kind of impact as Terrence Jones did as a freshman, minus the attitude issues. Wiltjer could be the x-factor for this group. He’s by far the best perimeter shooter on the roster, and the fact that he’s a 6-foot-9 forward makes him a tough matchup. The question mark with him is simply how he well he’s going to be able to defend and rebound.

In the back court, Ryan Harrow takes over the point guard role. A transfer from NC State, Harrow spent last season redshirting and practicing every day against Marquis Teague. He’s not the same kind of talent as Coach Cal’s last five point guard recruits, however, and it will be interesting to see just how successful he ends up being in the role. Archie Goodwin will likely be the best perimeter scoring threat. He’s a hyper-athletic, 6-foot-5 slasher that understands how to get to the rim and score. Kentucky may end up needing him to be a guy that averages about 15 points given some of their other question marks offensively. Julius Mays, Twany Beckham and Jon Hood are the other guys that could end up seeing time in the back court.

The biggest question mark I have with this Kentucky group is simple: How well does this roster fit together? Cauley-Stein and Noel are, essentially, the same player — big, tall, athletic shot-blockers that can’t do much offensively besides dunk the ball. But Kentucky’s best lineup is probably going to be with both of them on the floor together because I’m not completely sold on Wiltjer being a good fit for Cal’s system. This is a group that is going to have to thrive on athleticism and defense, especially early in the season, and those are the two biggest weaknesses for Wiltjer.

The problem with leaving Wiltjer off the floor is that he’s really the only guy that is the kind of shooter that cannot be left open; Kentucky has no one to play the role that Deandre Liggins and Darius Miller have the past three seasons. Poythress seems like a better fit at the four than at the three, but he needs to play the three because Kentucky isn’t very deep in the back court. That means that either Cauley-Stein or Wiltjer is going to have to play major minutes unless one of Beckham, Mays or Hood can prove that can be a defensive stopper and three-point marksman.

Predictions?: There’s plenty of talent here, and if there is anything in Calipari’s coaching repertoire that rivals his ability to recruit, it’s his ability to convince elite talents to buy into playing a specific role for the betterment of the team. I don’t doubt that he’ll find a way to get his best five players on the floor at the same time; one of the most interesting subplots to the college basketball season as a whole will be to watch what he does to make that happen. I don’t think that Kentucky is as safe of a bet to win the SEC as a lot of people are giving them credit for simply because I believe Missouri is being severely underrated. That said, as long as Kentucky as this much talent on their roster and Coach Cal making their decisions, they have to be considered a top three team and a national title contender.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Kentucky’s got an anthem as they look for their 9th national title (VIDEO)

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While there likely are a few Kentucky fans still basking in the glory of the school’s eighth national title, with practice beginning on Friday the focus for many turns to what John Calipari’s team can do for an encore.

Stars such as Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Doron Lamb (just to name three) are now in the NBA, but the Wildcats’ ability to reload on the recruiting trail has folks thinking that a repeat is possible.

And with that in mind, artist Henry Ogirri recorded the anthem for this year’s team, “Drive for 9.”

And while there’s definitely a high level of excitement for what Kentucky can accomplish next year with the Harrison twins committing, the Wildcats have the talent necessary to pick up another title this season.

Freshman center Nerlens Noel (don’t compare him to Anthony Davis) leads the way along with classmates Archie Goodwin and Alex Poythress, and sophomores Ryan Harrow (NC State transfer) and Kyle Wiltjer will also factor into the rotation.

Kentucky doesn’t have much in the way of experience (Wright State transfer Julius Mays and Twany Beckham are the lone Wildcats in their final year of eligibility) but that didn’t stop them last season.

Photo credit:  Leo Ramirez/AFP/GettyImages)

Raphielle is also the assistant editor at CollegeHoops.net and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Kentucky to install part of 2012 Final Four floor into new Rupp Arena locker room

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Kentucky enjoyed its national championship so much, it figured it might as well bring some memorabilia home.

John Calipari and the Wildcats will install close to 3,000 square feet of the 2012 national championship floor from the SuperDome in New Orleans into a renovated locker room at Rupp Arena.

“I’m not sure I’ve heard of any other locker room doing anything like this,” Calipari said in a release from the school. “But then again, it seems like here at Kentucky we do a lot of things that have never been done.”

Major pieces include the logo at center court, which will be placed in the middle of the team’s locker room, as well as the free throw line where Doron Lamb hit two late free throws.

As you’d expect, there is a recruiting angle to the move, which Calipari acknowledges.

“It does motivate when we’re bringing families in there and recruits in there and all of a sudden they’re like, ‘Wait a minute,’ ” Calipari said. “So yes, it’s going to be a motivating factor in us continuing to get the best and the brightest players here.”

The ironic part, though, is that most of the players integral to winning the championship will never step on the new locker room floor while suiting up for a UK game, as most have move on to the NBA, including Anthony Davis, Marquis Teague, Terrence Jones, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Darius Miller, and Lamb.

Calipari is working to raise money for charity, too, with the installation of the floor, partnering with Northwestern Mutual to auction off the remainder of the floor.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Who was last year’s best three point shooter?

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One of the easiest ways to tell that it is late July and quickly bearing down on August is to take a peak at the kind of posts that are being written across the college basketball blogosphere.

And as Drew Cannon proved to us over at KenPom’s blog, times are getting tough when we’re forced to come up with new stats to determine who is a good three-point shooter.

I joke, but Drew actually put in some good work. His goal was to determine who the best three-point shooter in the country is while factoring in volume of attempts, the percentage of those attempts that went in, and the difficulty of the schedule that was played. For example, Joe Ragland of Wichita State was the nation’s second-best three-point shooter with more than 100 attempts at just over 50% (59-117), but was he really a more dangerous shooter than John Jenkins of Vanderbilt, who knocked down 44% of his threes while taking more than 300?

So Drew created a stat called Three-Point Score, or 3PS. I’ll save you the boring math, but he found that High Point’s Nick Barbour was the nation’s best three-point shooter while Jenkins, who was second overall, was the best shooter once schedule difficulty was factored in. Here’s the top ten:

1. John Jenkins, Vanderbilt (1.108)
2. Kenny Boynton, Florida (1.100)
3. Brady Heslip, Baylor (1.097)
4. Keiton Page, Oklahoma State (1.088)
5. John Shurna, Northwestern (1.087)
6. Jordan Hulls, Indiana (1.084)
7. Ryne Smith, Purdue (1.083)
8. Doron Lamb, Kentucky (1.077)
9. Darius Johnson-Odom, Marquette (1.073)
10. Kam Cerroni, Green Bay (1.072)

That’s not bad.

The irony?

Drew’s namesake, Isaiah Canaan of Murray State, was crushed by his team’s weak schedule. I don’t care what the stats say, there was no question whatsoever that he was one of the nation’s ten best shooters last season.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.